New Mexico – For the first time in years, federal officials are planning to release a Mexican gray wolf into the wild along the Arizona-New Mexico border.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest regional director Benjamin Tuggle made the announcement late Thursday.
He says the conditions are right for the release next month of a 4-year-old male wolf into the area frequented by the Hawks Nest pack in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.
Officials hope the wolf will be a potential mate for the pack's breeding female.
A subspecies of the gray wolf, the Mexican wolf was exterminated in the wild by the 1930s.
Reintroduction began in 1998, but the effort has been hampered by illegal shootings and complaints from both ranchers and conservationists about the way the program has been managed.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.